Private view: Thursday 22 September, 6pm–8pm
Stephen Friedman Gallery presents a solo exhibition by Anne Rothenstein.
Focusing on portraiture, interiors and landscapes, the show brings together a group of new paintings that Rothenstein has created in the last two years. It is the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery.
Rothenstein’s enigmatic paintings are characterised by a dreamlike quality. Mysterious figures populate flattened landscapes and interiors. Her protagonists, often androgynous and vulnerable, provide intriguing subtle suggestions of narratives. Drawing inspiration from found imagery, personal experience and memory, Rothenstein works instinctively to communicate atmosphere and psychological tension.
The artist’s landscapes depict transient or dimly lit scenes such as final moments of sunsets and moonlit nights. They are rendered with sinuous lines and a distinctive palette built up of thin washes of oil. By painting directly on wood panel, Rothenstein allows the grain to become part of her compositions. Through her experiments with scale and distortion, and by simplifying details, the artist is visibly driven by shape and texture.
‘Moonlight’ depicts a female figure reclining on a bed, perhaps asleep or gazing out of a window at the night’s sky. Rothenstein’s palette is consistent throughout the painting: the dark scene is permeated with blue tones. Calm and contemplative, the figure is harmoniously entwined with the bed.
Speaking of her artistic process, Rothenstein says:
“My reasons, or intentions, when making a particular painting are quite mysterious to me. The spark is always lit from an existing image, a photograph or another painting, and I often don’t discover why that image leaped out at me or what it is I’m exploring until the work is finished. Sometimes I never find out. It is almost entirely intuitive. Finding a rhythm, searching for balance, alert to missteps, to what is happening, to changes of direction.
I am telling myself a story much of the time and asking questions. Who is this, where is this place, what is going on? This is what I think of as the noise of a painting. And of course, what I am trying to reach is the silence. There is a wonderful Philip Guston quote: “if you’re really painting YOU walk out.” That is what I mean by reaching the silence.”
By painting using her intuition, Rothenstein invites a multitude of interpretations and conclusions from viewers.
Anne Rothenstein, ‘Moonlight’, 2021. Oil on wood panel. Copyright Anne Rothenstein. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo by Todd-White Art Photography.